Andy Warhol, Silver Screen

July 17, 2012 — 23 Comments

Last winter, I featured an outfit that reminded me very much of one of my favourite pop artists, Roy Lichtenstein. In that entry, I hinted that wouldn’t be the last time I pay homage to an artist in dress. Today is the fulfillment of that promise. Although, I didn’t stray too far in my point of reference – I just moved from one pop artist to another. This shirt  came home from the thrift store because it reminded me of the oft-imitated Andy Warhol. In particular, it brought to mind his Flowers series – especially the 1964 original:

Andy Warhol | Flowers, 1964

My university art prof wouldn’t be surprised to see Andy make an appearance on the blog, my relationship with Andy is a long one. I somehow managed to write (or paint) him into nearly every major modern art project I’ve done over the past decade. It started with a grade 10 painting of a repeated shrieking baby in garish greens. It ended with a tragic tribute to a bald Britney Spears in the midst of her 2008 breakdown for my senior Modern Art final:

I’m honest enough with myself to realize that an obsession with Andy Warhol is an art student cliche these days. Now more than ever, edgy millennials pin, share, post and hang Warhol without a second thought. He’s become dangerously familiar. His work has ascended to the same level of pop-cultural awareness as, say, a Campbell’s soup can in the 60s (that just got really meta…). However, that doesn’t take away the potency of his legacy, nor does it diminish the genuine influence he’s had on my own aesthetic and worldview. In many ways, it just affirms he was a prophet as much as an artist.

Andy Warhol | Flowers, 1970

So what is it about Andy’s work that will forever continue to hold sway over arty college students? My own experience with primary art education will likely ring true for many for you, and maybe shed some light on the Warhol phenomena. It went a little like this: You meet the Mona Lisa in grade 3, Michelangelo in grade 5, and if you’re lucky, Monet in Grade 6. Then you repeat that for a few more years. Don’t get me wrong – there is much to be gained from the pages of art history, but after years of art education that seemed to begin and end with the Renaissance, the discovery of Warhol was a welcomed shock to my apathetic teenaged brain. Instead of frescoes, oils, and chiaroscuro, Andy gives us silk-screened canvases set ablaze with hot pinks, neon yellows, and primary reds. Rather than Venus and St. Paul, he gives us Elvis and Marilyn. The day I encountered Andy, I found myself staring down a host of new possibilities, because he made me realize that art is anything.

As someone who still watches too much TV and may indulge in a celebrity blog now and again, Warhol gave me validation that pop culture is worth exploring – it’s a subject every bit as valid for artistic exploration as a landscape or still life. There is so much to be learned from it.

I think, too, part of Warhol’s draw is his deceptive simplicity: deceptive in that he didn’t set out to create art for trendy 20-somethings. He set out creating dark and murky mirrors for an overly-consumerized society. College kids might share a Warhol quote because it says something snappy and it’s set in Helvetica, but Andy’s always been toying will all of us: There is so much more behind the canvas. Take the Flowers my shirt is referencing:

“What is incredible about the best of the flower paintings (especially the large ones) is that they present a distillation of much of the strength of Warhol’s art–the flash of beauty that suddenly becomes tragic under the viewer’s gaze. The garish and brilliantly colored flowers always gravitate toward the surrounding blackness and finally end up in a sea of morbidity. No matter how much one wishes these flowers to remain beautiful they perish under one’s gaze, as if haunted by death.” (J. Coplans, “Andy Warhol: The Art”, Andy Warhol, exh. cat., Pasadena Art Museum, 1970, p.52).

Whoa. That got a little heavy, didn’t it? But that right there sums up my attraction to Warhol’s work – it subverts the superficial with, well, the superficial. We could all  spend a lifetime striving to do something as poignant, and never quite get there.

You’re not going to find any attempts at poignancy here today – just a funky t-shirt and a few words on a artist I love. I’m thankful for Andy Warhol. I’m thankful for his Flowers. I’m thankful for this thrifted shirt that prompted one more Warholian reflection. And, finally, I’m thankful for these stretchy gray pants that mark the official end to my dry spell in thrifting pants. OK, that’s not entirely related, but it needed to be said. Poignancy aside, I know Andy would appreciate a good pair of trousers.

23 responses to Andy Warhol, Silver Screen

  1. 

    Great top – and nice to find out the history of Warhol!

  2. 

    This is just such a lovely outfit, I especially like the pattern of the shirt with the gray jeans! Very nice. :)

    xoxo,
    Laura

    http://lauraisthriftingthroughlife.blogspot.com/

  3. 

    This is where it ends. Our creepy same-ness is no longer after reading this post. You are way too smart and have way too meaningful of posts for me to even say I am like you. Seriously Julie. Your posts slay me. Not only is your shirt is spot on Warhol but your description of him and his work and what it means to you is just amazing. And you made me look at his work in a different way. Ok. Done basically fangirling (I am not exactly sure what that means but have read it everywhere) over you. But for real- thanks for this post.

    • 

      You straight trippin’ lady. I just write a lot of words in the vain hopes I come of as a smarty pants. But if you want to fangirl over me, who am I to stop you? ;)

  4. 

    You are looking super sexy with that hair. You pull of that top so well!

  5. 

    Love the print on that top! Very Warhol-esque, awesome :)

  6. 

    what a great tribute to andy warhol…both in your writing and your sartorial expression. i love this tank!

  7. 

    I loove Warhol! Just went to the MOMA and saw a bunch of his work : )

    Love your Warhol-inspired top, too! beautiful!

    • 

      I always go to the MOMA when I’m in NYC! Which is to say: I’ve been twice, and went to the MOMA both times. But saying “I always go to the MOMA when I’m in NYC!” makes it sound like I’m some super-stylin’ jet-setter who hangs out in NYC on the weekends, so let’s go with that. ;)

  8. 

    As crazy as he was, I am a HUGE Andy Warhol fan! I studied art in college and the Warhol era was one of the best (in my opinion)! I love this top, it is so reminescent of pop art!

    http://www.mythriftychic.com/

  9. 

    Being a Warhol lover myself, I have to say, this outfit is fab. And your Britney Spears piece is awesome!

  10. 

    Greetings from Colorado! I’m bored at work so I decided to check out your site on my iphone during lunch break.
    I really like the information you present here and
    can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m shocked at how fast your blog loaded on my phone ..

    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyhow, superb blog!

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